• Published 21st Jan 2018
  • 905 Views, 35 Comments

The Apple Jamboree - Coyote de La Mancha

A stranger comes to the Apples' annual folk music festival, carrying a silver-stringed guitar and an understanding of their songs' traditional roots to rival that of Granny Smith. Inspired by Magpie Pony’s 'Son of Princess Luna' video.

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Whereas this story is mine, it does not dwell in a vacuum. As aforementioned, it was inspired by Magpie Pony’s rendition of Son of Princess Luna on YouTube. I rewrote the original Hijo de la Luna’s lyrics for my own purposes, and I recommend Magpie Pony’s own version highly.

The story that Zacora tells is basically the backstory for the book The Face in the Abyss, by A. Merritt. If you like classic heroic fantasy (and if you want to see what happens when the evil wizard breaks loose again), check it out. There’s also the story that John told to Babs towards the end of Jamboree, called The Boy Who Saved the Stars. In our world, it was written by Doris Vallejo and illustrated by her husband Boris. It is one of the best children’s bedtime books ever.

There are a variety of songs mentioned in the story, as well.The Crow is an instrumental piece written by Steve Martin (yes, that Steve Martin), and Desolation is an organ and cello duet by Adam Hurst. The version of Thunderstruck I envision the Apples performing was rendered by a band called Steve’n’Seagulls. Other songs mentioned are also from our own world. Some describe common occurrences, like the traveler’s lament in Five Hundred Miles or the lost wanderer in They Call the Wind Maria.

Others songs have more specific histories. Our world has Runaway Hardy, though we usually call it John Hardy. Then there’s Tom Dooley and The Ballad of Stagger Lee, which tell folk tales based upon those specific murderers and their fates. The songs serve as snapshots of how people viewed what was happening around them. The histories behind them are worth digging into as well: what John says about the songs of his world apply to many folksongs of our own. So far as I know, Nellie’s Golden Hair is just an incredibly creepy song. At least, I hope that’s all it is.

As of this writing, all of these songs can be found on YouTube for those who would like to give a listen. Of Murder Bull and Vandy, Vandy, alas, I have yet to find a recording. I may have to make one myself someday.

EDIT: Thanks to n3k1dsk1llz, I’ve now been exposed to several versions of Vandy, Vandy available on YouTube. My favorite, alas, is no longer available on YouTube, but this one is very nice, though of a very different tempo and slightly different lyrics. (I still may make a recording of the version I knew growing up, just for fun.)

As for The Lord of the Dance, it has a variety of versions, countless verses, and an assortment of alleged histories. It has been attributed to several authors here and there; many of you probably already know of one version or another. For obvious reasons, I wrote my own verses for the story rather than use another writer’s version, and likewise for Vandy, Vandy. That being said, some songs are like stories: living, growing things with a life of their own. The Lord of the Dance seems to be one of them, and I think that to be very fitting.

All of which brings us to John Songsmith.

The original John, aka Silver John, aka John the Balladeer, was the creation of an author named Manly Wade Wellman. Mr. Wellman wrote beautiful stories of fantasy and magic that take place in the Appalachian Mountains and deal with the folk who dwell there (the Apples would be right at home). Unlike the John of my story, the original article had no surname and was of no supernatural origin whatsoever. That being said, he did deal with the ancient wizard who was pursuing Vandy, a ghost train, and many other supernatural horrors armed only with faith, folk magic, horse sense, and his silver stringed guitar. For those who wish to read about the original John, there’s a compilation of short stories called John the Balladeer which is a perfect starting point, and all his tales (that I have read) are equally suitable for young adult readers and older ones. And yes, Mr. Wellman also wrote both Murder Bull and the original Vandy, Vandy. He was a man of many talents, and the world is poorer for his passing.

There will be a variety of other Elsequestria stories; this is the second I have started and the first I have finished. Many of my stories will be in this same continuity, though there will be at least one other timeline in the future. I hope you enjoy this tale and others upcoming as much as I enjoyed and am enjoying writing them. And yes, I do intend to get into John Songsmith’s origin and his careless love of life, as well as his doings during the creation of Nightmare Moon. But that is a story best told by Princess Luna herself, I think. Perhaps to the young granddaughter (with a mess a' greats in-between) she won’t even know about until they meet in person. Luna was still in exile, after all, when John Songsmith and Henrietta Apple met centuries ago.

But that tale (and others) will have to wait. For the present, I am finishing up a story dealing with Sunset Shimmer.

Sometime again,


Author's Note:

Continued in Jamboree Aftermath.

Comments ( 23 )

Beautiful work. It's always nice to see a more mystical approach in a world where the magic often seems to be more a science than an art (when it isn't being a crapshoot. :derpytongue2:) Thank you for it.

Wow... the approach of autumn and ancient lore have their own magic, and you capture that amazingly. And I have a weakness for slowly building fic-verses to begin with. Looking forward to reading the rest!

(Though did you imply that Babs was still looking for her cutie mark? She got hers before the CMC even did.)

I did. In this universe, she is still looking for it. :twilightsmile:



Thank you both. When I wrote this, I wasn’t certain that it would work for anyone else but me... both for the more mystical approach and for the inclusion of music into a strictly visual medium. I am very glad the tale worked for you. :twilightsmile:

Oh, so you've read A. Merritt as well? I love his work! One of the best fantasy/lost race authors who ever set pen to paper.

I don't know if you're aware, but several of his books have been reprinted lately. There's a big expensive edition of The Moon Pool from Altus Press, complete with the original Virgil Finlay illustrations. And Armchair Press has reprinted The Face in the Abyss, with illos; and the same can he said for the (hopefully) still available Ship of Ishtar courtesy of Planet Book at Paizo.

Comment posted by Ardashir deleted Jan 4th, 2019


No, I didn’t know that... :rainbowderp:

Yay, more books! :twilightsmile:

I think you meant this comment for something else?

I really enjoyed this one.
The Lord of the Dance was quite moving. It brought back some fond memories. The melody is well known, but the lyrics most people think of when they hear it (assuming I am correct and you were riffing on the popular Christian hymn, which as far as I know was actually written in 1969? Its incredibly popular here in Britain in school assemblies and younger church's especially at Easter, where the lyrics are particularly resonating.

When you're an adult, religion is complicated. Some grow out of it, deciding there is no value in it. Even those that retain it, or come to it later life, are forced to contend with the notion that real life is messy, complicated, and sometimes faith can make something more complicated than simple. Usually we've experienced something that challenges faith, such as a bereavement, or tragedy, or some powerful moment. And of course, God remains silent.

Not when you're a kid at school or church though. Then your faith - or lack thereof - is simple. You trust that someone has all the answers. Its a song I have fond memories of.

I know in this universe, the Alicorn Sisters seem determined not to be worshiped as deities; but it nevertheless seems appropriate that the Son of one of those who are nevertheless worshipped as such, be the Lord of the Dance. Especially the Son of as a character as broken and flawed as Luna. I daresay the Lord of the Dance, would have had something to say to her following the Tantebus Incident. That doesn't seem like it would fit the personal philopshers of the someone who embodies the love of joy and life. I imagine he would have words for his mother.

My favourite verses to the lyrics of the original song, at least the version I knew, were the ones which were about the sadder, darker events; juxtaposed with the joyous song, and bouncing metre. That reminder that even in the worst times, life goes on.

In the spirit of that, I tried my hand at imagining a few of what those verses might look like in this universe, though it wasn't terribly great. I think your choices - the finding of the dance in simple moments, in work, in love, in companionship, works better than specific moments in history, but nevertheless, here they are.

I danced a Midsummer when the Sun turned dark
Its hard to dance with a Nightmare in your heart
the sun dreamed of her days with the sister she loved
the moon dreamed of the dance as she slept above;

I danced through forest and I danced through the town
I danced in the ruins when the Nightmare was struck down
I danced as the sisters, they both shed tears
For they could dance again nere a thousand years

I also find it ironic, that the one who wrote the song, Sydney Carter, said the following of the song (if you'll forgive the whimsy - I know you weren't putting it in an especially religious frame);

I myself see Christ as the incarnation of the piper who is calling us. He dances that shape and pattern which is at the heart of our reality... In other times and places, other planets, there may be other Lords of the Dance. But Jesus is the one I know of first and best.

It is fun to think, that in all the worlds, even in stories, that spirit of love, life, merriment, that pounding beat of life, moving forwards with purpose and joy, is embodied somewhere.

I really enjoyed this one. Nice work.

Thank you so much! I’m really glad you enjoyed this one as much as you did. It’s always tricky writing about music and I’m glad this worked for you. :twilightsmile:

I especially love that you felt inspired to add verses for this world’s Lord of the Dance. I envision the Ponish version to be constantly changing and growing, and you added to that idea beautifully!

When I was born, my mother was was an old-school Dianic Wiccan. She converted to Russian Orthodoxy when I was about eight or nine. I tend to associate with the Lord of the Dance with the Green Man, with Bacchus, with the Oak King and the Holly King... and, yes, with the Christ, as well. It is, after all, a song about rejuvenation, about the joy and sorrow and eternal cycle of life, death, and rebirth.

The question of “worship” is a thorny one in my Equus timelines, as you rightly point out. There may be no priesthoods or temples, but when a godlike being stands before you - and has across untold millennia - at what exact point does reverence and adoration become worship? Are the rituals of court become a form of worship? Is the Summer Solstice Celebration a religious rite? I think the Sisters technically manage to avoid being worshipped through their avoidance of sacrifice... but can the same be said for the Lord of the Dance? Perhaps, or perhaps not. But ultimately, he simply is who he is, and the old rascal’s love of music extols his love of life.

(As an aside, there is a story I wrote with him as the main character here, if you like, or you can skip to the continuities’ start here.)

Alas, while Luna’s son can move very quickly, he cannot teleport. And news travels to him no more quickly than anypony else. (And also, he gets a wee bit distracted sometimes.) But rest assured, I have plans for discussions betwixt the two of them in a story occurring shortly after this one... and between other family members as well.

Vandy Vandy

Found one. I like this version a lot.

Man...Lord of the Dance with a full country band like you described...yeah I don't think I'd stop dancing either.

Okay finished the playlist. First, thank you for that. It really brought the party to life in my head. Not that it wasn't already.

Second...I have a lot of feelings about every song I just listened to. I'm not gonna go through them. But I understand Applebloom's fatigue with sad/scary songs. I also understand the desire to share them and pass them on. They are just as culturally important as the happy songs.

Third, Nellie's Golden Hair was a brick to the face. That is all.

This version of Vandy Vandy might fit more with the setting of the story.
And another version
And another.

I haven't found Murder Bull yet, though.

And because I'm going down this road, I thought I'd share this.

It has nothing to do with the story, but I feel like anyone enjoying these other songs will enjoy this one. Just want to share the love. :pinkiehappy:

Ooo, yes. That’s grand! Thank you for sharing it! :raritystarry:

You are wonderful! :yay:

(How did I not find any of these in my searches? Oh, well... :derpytongue2: )

Well, if I'm seeing the dates correctly, it looks like they were posted around the same time as your story. So it's possible you just missed it or something

some of the video links have been taken down or no longer work:fluttercry:

Curses. Thank you for telling me; I will correct that when / if I can. Updates to follow. :rainbowdetermined2:

Update: They should work now. I'll try to update the YouTube playlist later. Please let me know if you run into any other problems. :twilightsmile:

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